I read a sharp description of this in H. Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture as he was describing the views of Christians similar to Martin Luther. When we realize the depth of human sin, we start to see the wide variety of ways that we subtly try to replace God as God. Niebuhr writes:
The will to live as gods, hence without God, appears in man’s noblest endeavors, that is, those that are noblest according to human standards. Man whose business it is to reason exalts reason to the position of judge and ruler of all things; they call it the divine element in man. Those who have the vocation of maintaining order in society deify law itself—and partly themselves. The independent, democratic citizen has a little god inside himself in an authoritative conscience that is not under authority.
Thinkers believe the power of their thinking is King. Rule keepers think rules are King. Individualists think their opinions are King. But it is not only the rest of the world that plays these games inside their hearts. Some people who desperately want to be Christ-like want that for the wrong reasons. Niebuhr continues:
The paradox is that we should try to be like Him but we should not try to be like Him. Seek to be Christ-like, but do not seek to be Christ.